Artist biography

Morris Louis 1912-1962

American painter whose work forms a bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Post-Painterly Abstraction. Born Morris Bernstein in Baltimore and studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts 1929-33. Lived 1936-40 in New York working as an easel painter on the WPA Federal Art Project (when he adopted the name Louis as his nom de plume), but otherwise spent his entire career first in Baltimore and then from 1947 in Washington, DC. First one-man exhibition at the Workshop Center Art Gallery, Washington, 1953. On a visit to New York with Kenneth Noland in 1953 was taken to Helen Frankenthaler's studio and was influenced by her poured stain technique. Experimented along these lines at the time but did not attain his fully mature style until 1958, when he began his first major series of large veil pictures. Extensive output from then on, using colours with increasing purity and directness; his last pictures have regular parallel stripes of colour. Died in Washington.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.455-6